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October 21, 2011 12:35 PM The incentive behind GOP obstructionism

By Steve Benen

At first blush, it’s tempting to think congressional Republicans are simply out of their minds to kill jobs bills during a jobs crisis. It seems insane — Americans are desperate for Congress to act; Americans overwhelmingly support bills like the one considered by the Senate last night; and yet GOP officials seem wholly unconcerned. Aren’t they afraid of a backlash?

Well, no, probably not. The reason probably has something to do with voters like Dale Bartholomew.

Now, my point is not to pick on one random voter quoted in an Associated Press article. He’s very likely a well-intentioned guy who’s simply frustrated with what’s going on in Washington. I certainly don’t blame him for that.

Consider, though, the significance of a quote like this one.

“If Romney and Obama were going head to head at this point in time I would probably move to Romney,” said Dale Bartholomew, 58, a manufacturing equipment salesman from Marengo, Ill. Bartholomew said he agrees with Obama’s proposed economic remedies and said partisan divisions have blocked the president’s initiatives.

But, he added: “His inability to rally the political forces, if you will, to accomplish his goal is what disappoints me.”

Got that? This private citizen agrees with Obama, but is inclined to vote for Romney anyway — even though Romney would move the country in the other direction — because the president hasn’t been able to “rally the political forces” to act sensibly in Washington.

That is heartbreaking, but it’s important — Republicans have an incentive, not only to hold the country back on purpose, but also to block every good idea, even the ones they agree with, because they assume voters will end up blaming the president in the end. And here’s a quote from a guy who makes it seem as if the GOP’s assumptions are correct.

It’s hard to say just how common this sentiment is, but it doesn’t seem uncommon. The public likes to think of the President of the United States, no matter who’s in office, as having vast powers. He or she is “leader of the free world.” He or she holds the most powerful office on the planet. If the president — any president — wants a jobs bill, it must be within his or her power to simply get one to the Oval Office to be signed into law.

And when the political system breaks down, and congressional Republicans kill ideas that are worthwhile and popular, there’s an assumption that the president is somehow to blame, even if that doesn’t make any sense at all. Indeed, here we have a quote from a voter who is inclined to reward Republicans, giving them more power, even though the voter agrees with Obama — whose ideas (and presidency) Republicans are actively trying to destroy.

As Greg Sargent, who first flagged the quote in the AP article, explained: “Voters either don’t understand, or they don’t care, that the GOP has employed an unprecedented level of filibustering in order to block all of Obama’s policies, even ones that have majority public support from Dems, independents and Republicans alike. Their reaction, in a nutshell, seems to be: The Obama-led government isn’t acting on the economy? Obama can’t get his policies passed? Well, he must be weak.”

The challenge for the president isn’t to teach Civics 101 to the populace; that would take too long. The task at hand is communicating who deserves credit for fighting to make things better, and who deserves blame for standing in the way.

Because if voters who agree with Obama are inclined to vote for Republicans because Republicans are blocking Obama’s ideas, then not only is 2012 lost, but the descent of American politics into hysterical irrationality is complete.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

  • Stevo on October 21, 2011 12:46 PM:

    Anyone ever notice how much time Steve Benen, Greg Sargent, and Kevin Drum spending reposting each others material?

  • gbear on October 21, 2011 12:47 PM:

    This 57 year old guy doesn't agree with Bartholomew at all. Fewer Republicans, please.

  • chi res on October 21, 2011 12:51 PM:

    Are you surprised?? This shit is all we've heard from the so-called "progressives" for the past two years.

    They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.

  • T2 on October 21, 2011 12:52 PM:

    from my perspective, this Bartholomew guy is an idiot. Maybe when he reads his own words it will dawn on him how stupid he is.
    "I like Obama's policies, but GOP won't let him enact them, so I'm gonna vote for the GOP, whose policies I don't like"......yeah, buddy, go ahead and do that. Real sharp.

  • OldUncleDave on October 21, 2011 12:52 PM:

    The Democrats are fond of saying, "The voters are smarter than that."
    The Republicans know they're not.

  • ckelly on October 21, 2011 12:53 PM:

    Obama can't get his policies passed? Well, he must be weak.

    It's probably true, Obama is "weak" in this sense. Of course, it is because the Repubs and worthless Dems put him in this position. The guy is probably right that Romney would get more done simply because the Senate would play ball - mainly because, unlike the Repubs with Obama, most of the Dems wouldn't act like vicious assholes hell bent on the destruction of a Pres. Romney at all costs. Of course, this voter might not like Pres. Romney's policies at all - unless he's mega-rich.

  • Jim on October 21, 2011 12:53 PM:

    The Dept of Ed could try and mandate civics be taught across the country - wouldn't hurt?

  • square1 on October 21, 2011 12:54 PM:

    You know, it isn't like the electorate woke up on January 20, 2009 and suddenly became irrational.

    The voters are ALWAYS un- or under-informed. They will ALWAYS make statements that are logically inconsistent. They have ALWAYS been this way and they will ALWAYS be this way. You go to the polls with the voters you have not the voters you want. It is the job of politicians, political parties, activists, and other political stakeholders to work within the political system despite the fact that human beings are imperfect and often baffling.

    One of the reasons that John Edwards was able to be relatively successful in 2004 and 2008 was that he understood how to craft messages that connected with people. As an experienced trial lawyer, Edwards understood how people think and how they make decisions. Jurors are no more intelligent, informed, or logical than voters. But you still need to convince them that you are right if you want to win.

    Even if individual voters remain illogical and inconsistent, if you don't believe that, in the aggregate, a majority can be persuaded to support good policies and good politicians then you don't believe in democracy. It really is that simple.

  • c u n d gulag on October 21, 2011 12:56 PM:

    "Voters either don’t understand, or they don’t care, that the GOP has employed an unprecedented level of filibustering in order to block all of Obama’s policies..."

    I don't think that it's that Americans don't care.

    I think it's that they just don't know!

    Because who the FUCK has been telling them the truth?

    Thanks to 'hells littlest angel's' comments earlier this morning, I found out that for ONE OF THE FIRST TIME IN MEMORY, the NY Times, and Hiatt's POS rag, the WaPo, actually blamed the Republicans in the headline, and not in the 17th paragraph continued on page B31! (Only to find that section B ends on page 30).

    If we get more of that to counter the propaganda at FOX, and the lame obsequious whining and begging for viewership at CNN - to the extent where they have 'Irk Irksomeshit,' and 'Douche Loesch' hoping to get some stray Teabagger had a senior moment and who forgot the channel number for FOX and may stay for a second longer and be "WOW"ed by the insipid non-insightfulness of Wolf SpitTheBitzer and the rest of "The Worst Fucking Political Team in the History of Fucking Television or Any Other Fucking Medium!"

    Then, maybe Joe Sixpack might be able to seperate the wheat from the bullshit.
    Until then, there's precious little wheat, and MOUNTAIN RANGES of bullshit!

    Sorry for the language...


  • majun on October 21, 2011 12:57 PM:

    What do you think they mean when they refer to "low information voters"?

  • Ivan on October 21, 2011 12:58 PM:

    He actually accomplished a fair bit before the Senate unexpectedly went 59-41, though it meant that Nelson and Lieberman became kingmakers, weakening any broad-sweeping legislation. In any administration before this one, in which Senate Republicans would at least allow legislation to be debated and then given an up-or-down vote, he could have done vastly more than he has. So it wasn't unreasonable to run on Hope, because if he'd been able to have what every other president has had -- legislation that could be passed if 51% of the House and 51% of the Senate voted for it -- people might actually have some by now. So you can call it liberal bitching, but that doesn't change the facts of it. Never before has the Senate required 60 votes for everything, and it was unreasonable for Obama to expect that.

  • jim filyaw on October 21, 2011 1:01 PM:

    mencken's axiom: no man ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the american public.

    the next election may prove that bitter truth once again.

  • square1 on October 21, 2011 1:04 PM:

    Life is about incentives. If you tell me where the incentives lie, I will tell you how people will behave 99% of the time.

    Before Obama was elected, I pointed out -- and I wasn't the only one -- that his promise to "change the tone in Washington" was completely counterproductive. The promise actually created a disincentive for Republicans to work with Democrats because they knew that President Obama would actually receive the blame.

    This isn't to say that Republicans wouldn't have fought against a Democratic agenda anyway, but if Obama hadn't made the promise then at least Republicans might have paid a political price for their actions, as opposed to receiving a political windfall.

  • Memekiller on October 21, 2011 1:05 PM:

    I'm one that often gets frustrated with Obama's unwillingness to fight for the right ideas and good policy rather than compromising. And at times it seems like the only power we have to sway the only people capable of change - the Dems - is to lose our support if they don't.

    What makes this guy so wrong is that Obama IS fighting for the right policy. And now it can become more starkly clear for a voter like this who is responsible for it not coming to fruition - Obama is fighting for jobs, Republicans don't want it and are preventing it.

    Consider how this would have gone a year ago. We would have been asked to suck up and accept some austerity and cuts for ordinary people to pay for tax cuts and bailouts for "job creators" who are rich primarily by shipping jobs overseas and exploiting a system that doesn't hold them accountable at our expense. We would all be asked to cheer this "grand bargain" because it's just too impossible to overcome GOP intransigence. And there's no downside for the GOP to obstruct because there's no blowback - Obama would buckle.

    This sentiment now has a chance to change because Obama ISN'T buckling and fighting on GOP terrain. The terrain is now OURS: jobs.And the GOP IS getting blowback - they're talking about income inequality for God's sake, and how to get people to work.

    I'm one who thinks that if Obama continues his strategy of fighting for good policy that helps Americans, and we continue to see populist anger at the 1 % in OWS, there's no reason to believe the GOP WON'T pass a jobs bill for the same reason Dems have passed so many Republican proposals over the years - to get the albatross off the table and remove the issue so it can't be used to pummel them in the election.

    That's their choice: vote for jobs, or face voter backlash. And that's the rewards of Obama's better-late-than-never campaign for Democratic principles rather than a "Grand (Old Party) Bargain."

    The old Democratic way of governing is partly responsible for that voter's view, and the current strategy is correcting it.

  • buddy66 on October 21, 2011 1:06 PM:

    ''Because if voters who agree with Obama are inclined to vote for Republicans because Republicans are Obama’s ideas,....''

    WTF does this mean?

  • chi res on October 21, 2011 1:09 PM:

    Oh yes, John Edwards. Now that's someone we should all look up to.

    Haven't kept up; is he in prison yet?

  • memekiller on October 21, 2011 1:15 PM:

    I think there is less incentive for obstruction now that Obama is campaigning for jobs rather than trying to make any deal he can get with the GOP.

    That voter is exactly why the GOP obstructs, it's true, but that strategy is based on the assumption that Dems will compromise and never make the argument for policy the GOP won't accept.

    That's no longer true. Obama and the Dems ARE arguing for Democratic principals, and defining a difference. This time, rather than that voter having to choose between the weak-kneed enabler who gets to pass all the Republican policies and provide cover by then having to take the blame for the failure, and the real deal and punishing that spinelessness, I myself might choose the latter.

    Now that voter can vote for someone fighting to provide jobs, or the people who are preventing it. When that's the choice, it's easy. Obama all the way.

    I totally understand this guy. I just think he hasn't caught on to the new campaign, and probably needs some convincing because Obama's strategy has come so late in the game.

  • martin on October 21, 2011 1:20 PM:

    WHY NOT VETO IT ?????

    Because unless he can get all of the Dems who voted for it to go along, there are enough votes to override the veto. So then we have the image of the President who can't get enough votes to pass his legislation and has his own party helping to override his vetos.

  • Steve Paradis on October 21, 2011 1:21 PM:

    Dale's got a point. Nothing's being done and something has to be done. Since the Republicans won't do anything under a Democratic president, maybe they'll do something for a Republican president.
    It's not like he can cast a vote against Louie Gomert or Steve King.

  • kindness on October 21, 2011 1:24 PM:

    Sometimes I get the worried notion that there are those on the right that want the United States to erupt in a shooting civil war because of the frustrations we feel. I understand those on the right that would consider this a good thing think they would come out on top. It's a terrible thing to even think about but maybe someone might want to start openly saying their perceived outcome of such madness might be opposite what they think.

    Comity and actual compromise is the best way to go. One of our political parties doesn't believe that any more.

  • Memekiller on October 21, 2011 1:28 PM:

    @kindness
    The GOP has been hoping for another Civil War for some time. The problem is revolution is usually directed at those in power, which has been the GOP and 1 %. It could lead to fascism - their secret desire, to make us all one big happy Party. Or it could lead to the guillotine. Which way do you think the country is headed at the moment?

    Careful what you wish for.

  • Memekiller on October 21, 2011 1:30 PM:

    @kindness
    The GOP has been hoping for another Civil War for some time. The problem is revolution is usually directed at those in power, which has been the GOP and 1 %. It could lead to fascism - their secret desire, to make us all one big happy Party. Or it could lead to the guillotine. Which way do you think the country is headed at the moment?

    Careful what you wish for.

  • Gandalf on October 21, 2011 1:30 PM:

    Steve really? So one Homer Simpson type guy makes a blisteringly stupid statement and you and the rest of the pansy asses here are running around screaming the sky is falling. For a guy who's supposed to be a political expert you need to get out more.

  • zandru on October 21, 2011 1:32 PM:

    Teaching Civics

    I disagree; it is the job of the President and Democrats to teach civics to the American public.

    How does the Senate work? What does the filibuster look like in the 21st Century? What is a "hold"? Why are all these cabinet and judicial positions being held up?

    My guess is that if Americans really understood what's happening in the Senate, there would be an OVERWHELMING push to get the rules changed. Time to work on this NOW, because in 2013 there will be one opportunity (ONE! That's what the Senate rules allow!!) to change them.

    Ditto for this whole "Electoral College" fiasco. I realize that, as a New Mexican, I would never again be visited by Presidential candidates or even see their ads. The experience of being a "battleground state" in 2000 and 2004 was great. But losing this would be worth the end of having Presidents elected by acreage - all those empty square miles in Montana, North Dakota, etc. which give those states' few voters disproportionate power.

    So, teach civics! It's clearly something Americans need to know. Frankly, we should be glad that our side benefits from disseminating actual information and facts, rather than having to constantly come up with plausible-sounding lies.

  • SYSPROG on October 21, 2011 1:40 PM:

    CIVICS 101:
    The CONGRESS makes/passes laws (pssssssst NOT the President).
    IF the CONGRESS gets off it's dead ass and passes something and the President finds in unpalatable he VETOES it. It then returns to the legislative branch where they must have a 2/3 vote to override the VETO.

    Now Steve...that wasn't too hard/or long was it?

  • TCinLA on October 21, 2011 1:41 PM:

    Unfortunately, no one teaches Civics 101 anymore, and even when they did, the majority of the morons I went to school with slept through the class anyway.

    Keeping the general population politically illiterate (as this guy is) is how the American ruling class remains in power.

  • MNRD on October 21, 2011 1:44 PM:

    Steve, this is really the whole deal in 2012. The Republicans have a very dangerous strategy. They are deliberately doing everything in their power to keep the unemployment rate high and hoping that the electorate will blame the President and hand the Republicans a victory in 2012. However, by brazenly breaking the system at every turn, the Republicans and the greediest corporate leaders have already created a huge backlash in the form of the OWS movement. In the end, they may pay a much, much steeper price than if they'd behaved decently when they had the chance.

  • jdb on October 21, 2011 1:46 PM:

    If there is any good news in all of this, it is that Mr. Bartholomew might not even get the chance to cast his vote for Romney. A few months ago, I was convinced that Romney would be the GOP nominee - now I'm not so sure. The far right hates him almost as much as they hate Obama. As crazy as it might seem, Perry might actually be the nominee - in which case, I think Mr. Bartholomew will come running back to Obama.

  • Lucia on October 21, 2011 1:47 PM:

    Americans overwhelmingly support bills like the one not considered by the Senate last night

    Fixed that for you.

    Shortly after Obama took office he had a filibuster-proof Dem Senate majority and a Dem House, and what did he do? A lot, actually, but on the big at-bats he whiffed, infuriatingly and consistently, by preemptively negotiating himself into positions that favored Republicans, which he then often still couldn't get passed, because Dems thought they were too conservative and the GOP, of course, was determined to give him nothing at all. A friend's husband is a Republican who went to law school with Obama and has never been impressed with him, calling him just another garden-variety Chicago machine politician. He is wrong: I wish Obama were one of those, since then he would have twisted arms and knocked heads and had the courage of his convictions and FOUGHT for them instead of wimping out.

    He's fighting now; I hope he keeps bringing it, and I hope it's not too late. But I'm not as hopeful as I used to be.

  • PhillyCooke on October 21, 2011 1:48 PM:

    "the descent of American politics into hysterical irrationality is complete."

    I agree. Just think you didn't need that lengthy conditional in front of this.

  • chi res on October 21, 2011 1:48 PM:

    Bubba = Dale Bartholomew

  • TCinLA on October 21, 2011 1:51 PM:

    @kindness:

    The reason the Right secretly hopes for a civil war they believe they could win is, they look at the domestic firepower loose in the country, and note that the vast, overwhelming majority of it is owned by Righties. Then they look at the number of Righties currently in the military and figure out which way the military would go in a split-up, and that just makes them even more confident. Sad to say, the number of lefties with any sort of military experience, who know the pointed end of the bullet goes in front, who know a damn thing about the military from an operational viewpoint, is a whole lot less than found on the Right.

    So of course they continue pushing what they push.

  • square1 on October 21, 2011 1:56 PM:

    Oh yes, John Edwards. Now that's someone we should all look up to.

    Looking up to him has nothing to do with anything. Edwards' personal, ethical, and possibly legal failings are completely irrelevant to the fact that Edwards understood messaging and communicating with average Americans.

    It's like saying that because Pete Rose or Barry Bonds might not be people that you would look up that they didn't know how to play baseball.

  • MNRD on October 21, 2011 1:57 PM:

    The question I have is this: What is it that motivates DEMOCRATS like Ben Nelson to be helping the Republicans to cause so much damage to the Democratic Party, when the public overwhelmingly supports the President's plan? Are they deliberately trying to destroy their own party from within? Are they doing it for the money they get from the 1%? And why would the Congressional wing of the Democratic Party permit this behavior from within that is so deadly to the party?

  • bigtuna on October 21, 2011 2:13 PM:

    Crazy question. Is there some legal / constitutional issue that keeps the senate in session? Is there some way Reid, or Obama, can just say - fuck it, we're done. make a clear statement that because of the egregoius manitpulation of the 60 vote rule, anon. holds, etc., there is no point for the senate to be in session. So, just close it down, and start campaigning now...

    I suppose there is the whole budget thing ... but really, what else does the senate do, now?

  • Mnemosyne on October 21, 2011 2:16 PM:

    Then they look at the number of Righties currently in the military and figure out which way the military would go in a split-up, and that just makes them even more confident.

    Last I saw, officers in the military are overwhelmingly Republican, but enlisted are 50/50 at best, probably with a slight Democrat advantage.

    Who do you think is a better shot, a colonel at the Pentagon who's been sitting behind a desk for 20 years or a sergeant who just got back from Iraq or Afghanistan?

    The military wouldn't support a Republican coup. The enlisted would never permit it.

  • square1 on October 21, 2011 2:18 PM:

    What is it that motivates DEMOCRATS like Ben Nelson to be helping the Republicans to cause so much damage to the Democratic Party, when the public overwhelmingly supports the President's plan?

    It's the money, Lebowski.

    Here's a more interesting question: Why does the Democratic Party tolerate the disloyalty of Nelson? (Hint: The answer is the same as to your question.)

    Here is the problem facing the Democratic Party. Their constituents are basically comprised of two groups: (1) Socially-liberal rich people and corporations with economically conservative ideas and (2) average Americans who are largely socially liberal AND economically liberal?

    The problem for the Democrats is when these two constituencies have mutually incompatible demands. What happens?

    One outcome is for elected Democrats to simply pick sides and piss off one constituency. However, an alternative is to deliver rhetorically for constituency while delivering substantively for the other.

    Because rich people and corporations expect results not just rhetoric, the default dynamic is for the non-rich wing to get nice rhetoric on economic issues and little more.

    In other words, if the rich/corporate wing of the Democratic Party wants tax cuts but the rest of the party wants a tax increase, the Democrats will profess support for a tax increase and then claim that they were forced to compromise on an extension of tax cuts. And because, particularly in 2009-2010, it wasn't credible for the Democrats to be blocked entirely by Republicans, there is always a "rotating villian" in the Democratic party who will step up and frustrate the professed Democratic position: On any given day, it might have been some combination of Bayh, Baucus, Nelson, Lieberman, Lincoln, etc.

    Obviously this doesn't happen on EVERY issue. And Democrats aren't always lying when they spout liberal-sounding rhetoric. But to deny that this dynamic exists and that some Kabuki frequently occurs is insane. Again, the incentives all lie in favor of Democrats pulling this sort of capitulation-theater on policy.

  • Josef K on October 21, 2011 2:19 PM:

    From TCinLA at 1:51 PM:

    The reason the Right secretly hopes for a civil war they believe they could win is, they look at the domestic firepower loose in the country, and note that the vast, overwhelming majority of it is owned by Righties. Then they look at the number of Righties currently in the military and figure out which way the military would go in a split-up, and that just makes them even more confident.

    Likely Comité de salut public felt the same way between 1784 and 1784 when it was managing the Reign of Terror. You can look up how that turned out.

    Sad to say, the number of lefties with any sort of military experience, who know the pointed end of the bullet goes in front, who know a damn thing about the military from an operational viewpoint, is a whole lot less than found on the Right.

    That's presuming the whole left-versus-right continuum is still applicable, which I disagree. We're seeing more of a authoritarian-versus-democratic conflict (small "d" democrat, not the political party). While I don't doubt there's a segment of the military who would happily go along with a full-blown insurrection and coup, I equally think a larger percentage of them would resist such a thing. Not because they love or even like the President, but because they take their oaths to protect the Constitution seriously, and aren't likely to be enthralled with the idea of overthrowing it.

    Of course I could be wrong there. But given the size and complexity of the US today, I'm not sure how such a war would play out. Certainly its unlikely to be anything like our first Civil War.

    So of course they continue pushing what they push.

    More the fool them, especially if things sprial out of their control (as such things are wont to do).

  • QuestionEverything on October 21, 2011 2:20 PM:

    "Shortly after Obama took office he had a filibuster-proof Dem Senate majority and a Dem House, and what did he do?" - Lucia

    Wrong! If you remember, there was the disputed Minnesota election for US Senator (Al Franken) that was in dispute and that went on for six months after Obama was elected. He didn't take the oath until early July. Ted Kennedy died that same summer and the "filibuster-proof" Senate was never the case for more than four months, maybe. Not to mention, you have people like Lieberman, Nelson, Baucus, BLincoln, etc. who aren't real Democrats and who have voted with the GOP on a number of big 'bills.' So he never had this FP Senate that you speak of.

    You speak as if Obama has had this his whole presidency. He hasn't and you can stop trying to pass the myth off as some attempt at justification for Republican obstruction or some fake argument that Obama squandered a filibuster-proof majority for the past 3 yrs.

  • Anonymous on October 21, 2011 2:22 PM:

    Before Obama was elected, I pointed out -- and I wasn't the only one -- that his promise to "change the tone in Washington" was completely counterproductive. The promise actually created a disincentive for Republicans to work with Democrats

    I see what you're saying here, but please. What Presidential candidate in recent years HASN'T promised to "change the tone in Washington"? That's pretty boiler plate rhetoric, there.

    Republicans would have used whatever Obama promised to do as a disincentive for working with him. I don't doubt that they'd have done the same thing for Hilary, had she been the nominee and electee.

  • SW on October 21, 2011 2:26 PM:

    This is not as stupid as it looks. The Presidency is a political position. The Republicans have employed political tactics to thwart the presidents policy perscriptions and they have been successful. The President has failed. Is it because the they are smarter than the founders of the country and have figured out a loophole in the constitution and have managed to employ a tactic that there is no way that they President can circumvent. No No a thousand times no. As we have seen by the fact that the beltway punditry seems to be amazed that the President's change in tactics seems to have managed to change the topic of conversation and put the Republican's on the defensive over the past few weeks, the fact is that the success of the Republican's strategy is due exclusively to their reading of Obama's strategy of High Broderism. A strategy that he doggedly pursued long past the point where any sentient human being should have concluded that it was counter productive. This amounts to failure. Now, no one prepares you for the Presidency. And it is hard to jettison your preconceived notions of what it takes to do the job. But we are paying a very high price for his stubborness in clinging to that failed conception of what it meant to do his job. It is understandable that this failure would lead to a drop in popularity. But he is a smart guy. And hopefully, he will stick to the path he is on now. Broderism is dead. It never had a real constituency outside of the imagination of a bunch of village blowhards anyway. The sort of movement conservatism that has taken hold of the Republican party needs to be defeated not accomadated. The country needs someone who will do battle with this sickness not try to incorporate it into the national bloodstream.

  • linus bern on October 21, 2011 2:26 PM:

    I don't agree with it, but I think it is a common sentiment. People like Obama and like his ideas but think it doesn't really matter if the Republicans are going to block absolutely everything. There is a certain logic to thinking that if the Republicans were in power at least the Democrats wouldn't stand in the way when ideas were advanced that were good for the country.

  • linus bern on October 21, 2011 2:29 PM:

    And before you have a freak on me, I think such an outcome would be absolutely disasterous, while the current situation may prevent any good ideas from advancing, it also prevents to god-awful ones the Republicans would like to put through.

  • chi res on October 21, 2011 2:40 PM:

    Cheaters and grifters should not be held up as good examples of anything besides cheating and grifting. That's not a complicated concept for folks who have at least a halfway-cultivated moral sensibility.

  • Joe Buck on October 21, 2011 2:47 PM:

    Barack Obama brought this on himself, because up until a couple of months ago, he has refused to blame Republicans, he has presented himself as Mr. Bipartisan committed to setting a new tone in Washington. He sometimes refers to "Congress", but the public thinks that Democrats control the Senate. He has rarely been specific about Republican obstructionism, and conservative Democrats have given the Republicans cover. The result is that there are lot of people who sympathize with him but think he's too weak to be effective.

    As for Romney, his flip-flopping reputation might help him in the general election. The public might decide that he's the same kind of pro-corporate middle of the road politician that Obama is in real life, and if Romney gets the nomination I expect him to run the general campaign by attacking Obama at least partly from the left. That would be wildly inconsistent but that has never stopped Romney before.

  • GP on October 21, 2011 3:00 PM:

    Apparently for Mr. Bartholomew, any motion is better than no motion at all. It doesn't matter if that motion nudges him and his family over the cliff, at least *something* is changing! Oh, but Mr. Bartholomew assumes he is immune to such threats. Whatever happens, it won't affect him at all, so why not root for the guy who can stir things up?

    This is soap opera logic masquerading as political thought.

  • MNRD on October 21, 2011 3:01 PM:

    square1, I see your point and there is something to what you're saying, but there's something missing. You leave out the most logical option for the Democrats, which is to take a balanced approach - and, in fact, that is precisely what the President has tried to do at every turn. The balanced approach would benefit Democrats (and the country) - this other dynamic is deadly for Democrats.

    Furthermore, there is a contradiction in the notion that people can be as extremely conservative economically as you claim and at the same time socially liberal. That extreme level of economic conservatism is socially conservative by its very nature. In other words, people who are truly economically conservative and socially liberal should favor the balanced approach. So the question remains, why would upscale people who are socially liberal oppose the balanced approach?

  • steve on October 21, 2011 3:20 PM:

    In the 1890's the House was as screwed up as the Senate is today. Speaker Reed adopted rules that allowed the House to act. Leader Reid needs to do the same today. Democracy requires it.

  • CK MacLeod on October 21, 2011 3:26 PM:

    Durn near perfectly stated conclusion, but the implication contradicts the prior point about it being too late for "Civics 101." It means that teaching and thus empowering the populace, empowering and thus teaching the populace - and not just the populace but the political and media class including leftwing activists - must be a central organizing principle for true "progressive" politics, just as it was, incidentally, for the real Progressives 100 or so years ago.

  • Daddy Love on October 21, 2011 3:38 PM:

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    Does this need repeating? Really?

  • Lucia on October 21, 2011 5:01 PM:

    @ QuestionEverything: I do recall the disputed Minnesota election, and that's why I said shortly after, not when, Obama took office. And, no, he didn't have the majority for long, and he certainly never had all Senate Dems acceding to his every whim -- that would be where the twisting arms and knocking heads would have come in. You can't tell me Obama's been out front leading the progressive charge since day one, because it just ain't true.

  • beb on October 21, 2011 9:56 PM:

    I keep waiting for President Obama to declare martial law and arrest all the Republicans as traitors to the nation. It''s the only way any shit is ever going to get done.

  • Ann Newton on October 22, 2011 8:02 AM:

    Don't the voters have some responsibility for voicing their preferences to their recalcitrant obstructive GOP representatives? If the voting public really wanted jobs, they would show up at town meetings and shout down the GOP reps in the same way that the tea partiers did two years ago. FDR succeeded because the public was energized to get rid of the Hooverites who were hostages to moneyed interests.

  • chi res on October 22, 2011 8:46 AM:

    You can't tell me Obama's been out front leading the progressive charge since day one, because it just ain't true.

    No, that would be the Socialist Workers Party leading the charge at the front of yet another impotent candlelight march.

    Obama's just been out there getting stuff done for poor and middle-class folks.

  • franklin on October 24, 2011 2:30 PM:

    America voted the GOP assholes in. America should pay for its stupidity and burn to the ground.

  • Ryan on October 24, 2011 3:10 PM:

    Julene: the problem with that argument is that Obama didn't lack specifics in 2008. He laid out more detailed policy proposals than any Presidential candidate in American history, by a pretty wide margin. The problem is that people reach silly conclusions like this about Obama to make sense of GOP obstructionism, rather than calling a spade a spade and wondering why the opposition party is borderline treasonous at this point with their active, intentional sabotage of the nation's economy.

  • Reid on October 24, 2011 3:42 PM:

    Obama needs to go to the American people and tell them "Republicans in congress are hurting the country for the sake of politics. And this is not only unacceptable, it's unpatriotic."

  • Topher on October 24, 2011 4:07 PM:

    There's a strong element of truth here- while since the 2010 election I would argue that Obama has had very limited power, for the 2 years before that it was simply cowardice to sit behind procedural backstops. It would have required a radical intensity to change Senate rules and to get the initiatives passed in their strongest form, but it could have been done.

  • green2balls on October 24, 2011 4:58 PM:

    After electing Mr Obama and hoping he would fix the HUGE MESS THE REPUBLCANS left behind HA HA almost 30 year of there handy work. leaving this country on it s knees. there is nothing more horrifying then seeing intelligent people not wanting to admit the truth. the Republicans have destroyed this nation with its GREED and not admitting it pointing the finger to the Democrats. they are low lives living like aristocrats.

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